Laminate Flooring Construction Layers & Abrasion Rating

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Posted by admin | Posted in Tips & Advice | Posted on 13-09-2010

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Laminate flooring comes in both planks and square tiles. Laminate flooring is constructed with several different layers of various materials that are thermofused together to form the laminated flooring planks and tiles.

The Four Basic Laminate Flooring Construction Layers

  • Wear Layer – This is the transparent top surface that protects the floor from scratching, staining, scuffing and also protects the printed design layer below. The wear layer is a combination of melamine with aluminum oxide particles which makes it extremely durable.
  • Photographic Image Layer- This is the photographic image layer of either a real hardwood plank, ceramic tile, stone or some other material. The photographic images are extremely clear, vibrant and realistic. Combined with texturizing the top layer this creates a true, authentic looking, natural floor appearance. For example, some laminate designs are actually photographic images of old historical floors.
  • Inner Core Layer – The inner core is generally made from high-density fiberboard and also used to form the tongue and groove edges for locking laminated planks together. The core is also the base for the photographic image and wear layer.Most manufacturers also saturate the inner core with melamine resins or a water-resistant sealer to help protect the inner core from moisture.
  • Backing Layer – is fused to the Inner Core to add stability and create a barrier that helps protect the planks from moisture and warping. Like the Inner Core the backing is also treated with some sort of water-resistant sealer.

Note: The Inner Core combined with the Backing layer are what really make up the overall thickness of each plank. Planks generally range from 8 mm to 12 mm in thickness. The thicker planks are more rigid and help overcome minor irregularaties in the sub-flooring..

Abrasion Co-efficient (DAMAGE/ SCRATCH) Rating (AC Ratings)

Laminate flooring manufacturers have also adopted a method of scoring the durability of the top layer to help consumers with choosing the right laminate floor for their situation. This is called the AC Ratings. The AC stands for Abrasion Coefficient. The AC Ratings go from AC1 to AC5, with AC5 being the best. Both the in-store samples and laminate flooring cartons should have their AC Rating marked for consumers to see. For very active areas and kid’s play rooms it’s best to choose a laminate floor with an AC Rating of AC3 or greater.

AC Ratings Overview
AC1 – floors with this rating are suitable for low traffic areas, such as bedrooms.
AC2 – floors suitable to low to medium traffic, such as living rooms or dining rooms
AC3 – floors suitable for most areas in homes, including hallways and light commercial
AC4 – any where in the home as well as commercial buildings. For example: an office or store
AC5 – can be used in heavy traffic commercial areas.

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